August 15, 2022
BEIJING – The summer of 2022 is on track to become the hottest since China began compiling complete meteorological records in 1961 as a scorching heat wave is forecast to smother most parts of the country in the coming two weeks, triggering fresh concerns over drought, heat damage to crops and new peaks in energy consumption, China’s weather authority said.
The National Meteorological Center said extreme high temperatures will continue in many parts of the country, especially in the Turpan area of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Sichuan basin and regions in the middle and the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
It said that in some areas, high temperature could reach 40 C, possibly breaking records. Since Friday, the center has issued a red alert for extreme heat for three straight days.
Chen Tao, chief forecaster at the National Meteorological Observatory, said a national temperature red alert is issued when the highest temperature in areas across four or more provincial-level regions in the past 48 hours hits 40 C and above and is forecast to persist in those regions.
“Since late July, there have been large-scale and high-intensity high temperatures in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River due to an abnormally strong subtropical high pressure system in the western Pacific,” Chen Tao said. “Based on our analysis, the system will continue and high temperatures will persist in those regions for the coming two weeks.”
Chen Lijuan, chief forecaster at the National Climate Center, said high temperatures have lingered in many parts of southern China since June.
“While this year’s duration of regional high temperatures has yet to surpass the record of 62 days in 2013, it is set to break the record and become the hottest year since 1961,” she said.
Shanghai, which entered its 41st day of temperatures above 35 C on Sunday, has experienced six days with high temperatures above 40 C this summer.
The city’s temperature hit 40.9 C on July 13, equaling the highest temperature in Shanghai since records began in 1873. Wang Zhi, chief forecaster at the Shanghai Meteorological Observatory, said the city will continue to experience hot weather over the next 10 days, with the highest temperature up to 41 C.
The neighboring province of Zhejiang is expected to experience similar temperatures. Zhejiang has seen temperatures between 39 C and 43 C since July, with the highest reaching 43.1 C in Sanmen county, Taizhou city and 42.9 C in Yongjia county, Wenzhou city. Both readings are historical local new highs, the Zhejiang Meteorological Observatory said.
High temperatures in Chongqing are also forecast to continue. The Chongqing Meteorological Observatory said that through Aug 22, the highest temperatures in most parts of the municipality will be between 38 C and 42 C. It said that in some areas, the temperatures will reach 43 C and 44 C, close to or exceeding records for the city.
“High temperatures and heat waves in summer are normal from a climatic point of view, but the duration, intensity and scope of high temperatures and heat waves this summer have indeed reached a very strong level,” said Chen Lijuan. “In the context of global warming, high temperatures and heat waves may become a new normal.”
Affected by the high temperatures, some areas in the Sichuan basin and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River have already experienced drought. In the future, this drought may continue or get worse, said Chen Tao.
“The high temperature weather has a certain adverse impact on agricultural production in the southern region, and continuous high temperatures are not conducive to the growth and development of some crops, especially some forest and fruit crops,” Chen Tao said. “For example, tea trees or fruit such as citrus and mangoes in east and southeast China are vulnerable to high temperatures and heat damage.”
Chen Tao suggested that measures be taken in response to high temperatures such as timely water replenishment and sprinkler irrigation to help cool down crops and remove fruit that has been affected by heat damage as soon as possible.
Chen Lijuan also cautioned that the drought may last through the autumn.
“According to our analysis, the possibility of less precipitation in the Yangtze River Basin in the later autumn is still relatively large, especially in the middle and lower reaches of the region,” she said.
In cities, a surge in electricity demand is one of the most noticeable effects of excessive heat.
Chen Tao suggested relevant departments adopt emergency plans based on temperature forecasts to ensure power supplies and advised the public to minimize outdoor activities and drink lots of water to avoid heat stroke and other conditions easily induced by high temperatures.
“It is especially important to note that as the hot weather continues, students who are at home on vacation must stay away from dangerous waters to prevent drownings,” said Chen Tao.